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Anamanaguchi Grows Up without Growing Old

Anamanaguchi‘s latest hyperactive blitz of chiptune, punk rock, pop songs, and dance music manages to satisfy my cravings for old-school Guchi pep and interest in bands developing their sounds. “On My Own” is about as Anamana as it gets, with punk rock tempos and affectations (including a hardcore-style half-time breakdown!), cheery 8bit melodies, and a pop female vocalist bringing it all home. It’s about as maximum a tribute to JPop as four dudes who went to east coast design schools can offer. Follow-up track “Up to You” amps up the pop aspects and includes a feathery vocal approach that’s half JPop/KPop and half … uh … Owl City. It works though, I promise. “Air On Line” is a standard Guchi instrumental jam, and it rips in all the ways you would expect. If you’re here for more of what Guchi has given you in the past, Anamanaguchi delivers.

Yet they’ve also grown in their approach. The album is named [USA], which implies a much different theme than Endless Fantasy. The opener is a deliberate, expansive introduction that ends with distorted male vocals chanting U-S-A! U-S-A! That’s different. The title track follows, and it is a dense, complex, almost post-rock affair, with the quartet turning their usual adrenalized approach inside out. They introduce vocorder vocals, which continue in the similarly thoughtful and careful “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem).” They introduce back their signature 8bit sounds into this one with aplomb, making a fusion between their more pensive take and their LET’S-GOOOOO normal state. (There’s plenty of chiptune enthusiasm in the center of “Lorem Ipsum,” don’t worry.)

While the album is provocatively called [USA], the band does not dramatically foreground the theme. If you think hard and deeply about the nature of the individual songs, the work’s structure, and the often-partially-obscured lyrics, you can start to draw conclusions. But you don’t have to. You can just take this at sonic face value as a fascinating, excellent album that walks the tightest of tightropes: making more of what you’re known for while still stretching the wings and expanding sonically. Anamanaguchi handles the task deftly, and that makes the album a huge success. Highly recommended. —Stephen Carradini

The Parmesans / Anamanaguchi / Twin Forks

wolfeggs

Pop-folk has started to take over the radio. I never would have guessed that I’d write that sentence, but there it is. We’ll know that the domination has become total when The Parmesans make it to the radio: they take pop-folk one step farther down the line, playing a very pop-friendly form of bluegrass. Debut album Wolf Eggs is 15 (!) songs of melody-heavy folk/bluegrass that will make you want to tap your foot, clap, and sing along. Opener “Spicy Cigarette” sets the mood for the rest of the album by introducing a guitar/mandolin/stand-up bass trio tracked live, with each of the members contributing harmonized vocals. They even shout “hey!” in the middle of the mandolin solo. How can you not love that sound? “Load Up on Eggs” features a trumpet to great effect; “JuJaJe” recalls the Avett Brothers in blocky, chord-based style; “The Riddle Song” will steal your heart away (or the heart of whatever significant other you play it for).

While “The Riddle Song” is beautiful musically, its title implies that the lyrics are the main point, and so they are. The Parmesans are not slouches in that department, which makes this album even more enjoyable. There are plenty of standard references to alcohol (“Spicy Cigarette,” “Wine in My Mustache”), food (“Load Up On Eggs”), and various agricultural things (“Hay,” “Chicken Yard”), but there’s also a knowing wit in these tunes. The tropes may be a beard, but they’re not fake: the lyrics use the goofy top layer to speak to real emotions and situations. It’s fun and real. How often do you get that?

The Parmesans know what’s up on Wolf Eggs: they give you a large set of tunes that are memorable melodically and lyrically. It’s fun, funny, and even sentimental. What else do you want out of a folk album? Wolf Eggs is one of the best releases I’ve heard all year, and I expect to see it in my end of year lists.

ENDLESS-FANTASY-DIGITAL-COVER-ART

I love chiptune. As I write this sentence, I’m listening to chiptune version of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” because seriously, I’m committed to this genre. Anamanaguchi is also wholly invested in the genre, as their Endless Fantasy shows. They’ve thrown down 22 songs on the album, and all of them are chock full of mostly-instrumental warp-speed pop-punk shot through with enough jubilant chiptune melodies to make 1988 Nintendo jealous. If you can’t get happy while listening to this music, I don’t know what can help you. This is the aural equivalent of drinking a Red Bull. It’s the most fun music I’ve heard all year. The members are sneakily talented at arranging these songs so that it doesn’t get boring, but that’s not the point. Bouncing off the flippin’ walls is the point. And you should do that. Heartily. With gusto.

twinforks

I’m not going to lie: I loved Dashboard Confessional. I was the right exact age for that to be my jam in high school, and there’s just no way I can sit here and say that I didn’t holler along with those songs unabashedly. I pulled out The Swiss Army Romance when I heard that the Chris Carrabba-fronted pop-folk band Twin Forks was among us, and it was one of the most nostalgic things I have ever experienced. I felt like I was 16 again, really and truly.

So it should not surprise you that I’m about to say that Twin Forks is awesome. I mean, how could it not be? This guy has tons of experience writing songs on an acoustic guitar, and now he gets to put banjos and mandolins around it. He sings like he sings. If you hate his voice, well, you’re probably not reading this sentence, because you already left. This is exactly what you think it would be, and that’s great. The more critical quandary goes something like this, a la Phillip Phillips: is this a shameless play on what is popular? Is it a “right time at the right place” thing? Is it simply boredom on Carrabba’s part? The populist in me has an answer: I DON’T CARE ONE BIT. If you need more Dashboard Confessional, or more pop-folk, jump on Twin Forks’ self-titled EP. You will sing and stomp and dance and I’m going to stop before I go all caps on this. I’m just all about it. Yes.

Standards’ Fruit Island gets wild and … warm

Standards‘ Fruit Island is what would happen if a math-rock band, an indie-pop band, and a classical guitarist merged into a single entity. The guitar-drums duo features often clean (or lightly distorted), highly patterned, deeply melodic electric guitar work over cymbal-heavy, frantic drumming.

The melodies are absolutely beautiful, and none more so than in the solo guitar opener and title track, which is a vaguely tropical, dreamy, lovely, walking pace guitar solo that has more in common with classical guitar work than math-rock.

“Nap” brings in the drummer and kicks up the pace. The duo turns out the most mathy of the tracks, complete with structured runs, syncopated asides, gonzo drumming, and other hallmarks of math-rock. Yet even in this most complex of songs, the work leads up to a hair-raisingly beautiful section where the guitarist transcends the monikers and just creates an elegant, wonderful piece of music with percussion support. The coda is a variant on that section, reminiscent of some of Anamanaguchi’s big finales. I dare anyone with an interest in math-rock to hear “Nap” and not just need to sit down afterwards.

It’s not all rhythm-heavy fretboard workouts. Standards has a real interest in pop melodies, and given the bright, friendly tone of the guitar (most of the time), these tunes have genuinely fun pop moments. “Starfish” turns a wibble-wobble opening line into a zooming, stratospheric soar. “Special Berry” has a memorable, herky-jerky riff. “May” slows the tempo down but is no less complicated or melodic a piece of guitar work for the change in pace. “Rainbow” is like a warm sweater, especially after the first few tracks–it builds on the established pattern and gives the guitarist more room to go nuts. If you weren’t in to the first couple tracks, you probably won’t be in to “Rainbow,” but if you’re already on the train, this is just more goodness.

“Mango” is another solo guitar instrumental that shows off the guitar skill, and it really drives home the love of guitar that Standards has. They love drums, too–“What You Aren’t” is a completely overactive drum kit experience in the best of ways. But overall, Fruit Island is a love letter to guitar via an indie-pop/math-rock mashup. It’s a wonderfully listenable release that I can put on over and over again. I recommend headphones, though–there’s a whole lot of treble and a whole lot of bass kick, and not much mid. So it may sound wonky on mid-heavy speakers. Just a heads up. But otherwise, this is an incredible album. Highly recommended.

October Singles 2020: 2

1. “For B 2” – Jake Aaron. A lovely little acoustic guitar piece, a river running smoothly and beautifully over rocks.

2. “A Large, White Vase” – Art Contest. This track is like the dark indie rock of Manchester Orchestra being eaten by Anamanaguchi–it’s glitchy, quirky, video-game-inspired, but also dark and volatile emotionally. There are stuttering math-rock patterns, spoken word, and punchy bass lines. It’s a whole lot happening, which is all for the best.

3. “Smash / Hit” – Thirsty Curses. Did you think Beat the Champ was a great album and want more indie-rock/wrestling crossover? Thirsty Curses and Fire Star Pro Wrestling have got your back. Here’s a mashup of Thirsty Curses’ yelpy, enthusiastic indie rock and Fire Star’s pros going at it as best they know how. The song is catchy as all get out, and the wrestling is fun.

4. “Heliotrope” – Runnner. I got worn out after covering acoustic indie-pop for almost a decade, but the cream of the crop still catches my ear. This track has all the earnest charms of a Guster track (honest yet interesting lyrics, gently clever arrangements) with a sonic palette similar to Freelance Whales (but with more gravitas). It floats despite being serious, and it slaps without … actually slapping. (“Slaps” is a state of mind, I suppose.) The M83-esque coda is impressive, too.

5. “The Seminar” – Stables. Dear heavens, I want to be in Stables’ music video so bad. The Lord Huron-esque tropical indie-folk with Vampire Weekend overtones charges along so enthusiastically that I want to live in this song. Then the music video is a backyard concert: no masks, just people dancing in summer dresses and hipster short-sleeve buttondowns. People are taking video on their phones inexplicably (as someone always is). The whole thing is filtered through a bright yellow filter. TAKE ME WITH YOU, STABLES!

6. “I’ll Do Anything But Breakdance for Ya, Darling” – Kate Davis. Davis interprets Daniel Johnston here (as part of a whole album cover of Retired Boxer) and does Johnston great justice. Johnston’s warm, weird charm and offkilter lyrical approach are maintained. Davis amplifies the warmth here, delivering the vocals with pitch-perfect earnest. The enthusiastic arpeggiated synthesizer that takes the chorus to great heights is the cherry on top. This is just a wonderful cover–I don’t cover covers that often, but this one is immaculate. Please check it out. In addition, proceeds from the record go to Johnston’s memorial foundation concerning mental health, the Hi How Are You Project.

7. “The Ruckus” – Schimanski. Funky, punchy, goofy, loopy, excitable, and altogether fun. Lots of funk bass, big ‘ol trumpet synths, and more.

8. “Decision Dollars (with Hollie Fullbrook)” – The Phoenix Foundation. Hazy, melancholy, ’80s-inspired, dark blue dream-pop that makes me think of the Dream Academy. The arrangement is perfectly done here–it feels nostalgic and fresh at the same time, an extremely difficult trick to pull.

9. “Rebounder” – Night Sports. Lookin’ at a different type of nostalgia, this video compiles hundreds of short video clips compiled from social media (or at least, made to look like that). It’s all pre-COVID, no-mask, joyful snippets of life. Shoutout to the dude who’s using his guitar as a cellphone and vice-versa. The guitar-pop is fun too, but this video is hard to look away from in the best of ways. Come on back, regular life. Come on back.

10. “Of a Million” – Thunder Dreamer. “Helplessness Blues” is over: “Of a Million” is the new cry. The pushback on just being part of some big machine is trenchant and solid. (Although, not in an uncomplicated way, as the chorus points in two directions, both away from and toward being in that frame of one of a mass. Clever.) The easygoing, walking-pace folk/indie-pop arrangement here is brilliant as well.

11. “Ubaba” – Urban Village. Here’s a brilliant South African song that combines peaceful acoustic guitar and traditional Zulu singing patterns for a sonically warm, comforting, encouraging song.

12. “Lunar Acropolis” – Xander Naylor. I love it when drone and rhythm compete with each other, and that’s exactly how Naylor starts off this six-minute journey. Guitar wanders in, and then eventually it gets dark and heavy with thunderous horns/sax/drums. It gets jazzy and wild before calming back down for the coda. A really fun experience.

Stephen’s Most Listened To of the Year

This year was a year of experimentation at Independent Clauses. I spent a lot of time in the beginning and middle of the year making Spotify playlists of instrumental music and covering minimal work found by press release. The back of half of the year saw me going back to the traditional Independent Clauses style of album reviews. Because I had two different types of work this year, I’m going to have two different lists. Tomorrow’s will be the traditional “best of” list, where I list the stuff I thought was the best that came out this year. This first list will be a list of what I listened to the most on Spotify over the year from most to least. Some of these came out this year, most didn’t.

1. Zelda and Chill – Mikel.

2. Master Spy – RAC.

3. Marimba Suites: Gwendolyn Burgett Thrasher Plays Her Transcriptions of Six Cello Suites by J. S. Bach – Gwendolyn Burgett Thrasher.

4. TRON: Legacy Reconfigured – Daft Punk & Various Artists.

5. Monument Valley 2 Original Game Soundtrack – Todd Baker.

6. Poké and Chill – Mikel.

7. Persuasion System – Com Truise.

8. Iteration – Com Truise.

9. Virðulegu Forsetar – Jóhann Jóhannsson.

10. Scenery – Snail’s House.

11. Walk Home Instead – Make Sure.

12. Scale – Various Artists (Bigo & Twigetti).

13. Party Starter – Antone.

14. Luminous Emptiness – Hang Massive.

15. [USA] – Anamanaguchi.

16. Ex – KJ.

17. Mustard After Dinner – Fighting Kites.

18. Englabörn & Variations – Jóhann Jóhannsson.

19. The Appearance of Colour – John Metcalfe.

20. Cold Math – Panfur.

21. Mister Lies – Mister Lies.

22. Bioluminescence – Teen Daze.

23. Spells – KJ.

24. Sunset & Formosa – DJ Dister.

25. Silk Music Presents Shingo Nakamura 02.

26. MODVLXXR – 0010×0010.

Honorable Mentions:

Hasta El Cielo (Con Todo El Mundo in Dub) – Khruangbin.

Traversable Wormhole Vol. 6-10 – Traversable Wormhole.

Late Singles 3

1. “Stanley and Seafort’s” – Kye Alfred Hillig. Hillig has been at this singer/songwriter game so long that he’s gone through his rock phase and his voice-and-guitar-only phase to come back out at the other end with a sound that’s matured but not all that different than his original ideas. What has developed is his lyrical approach–moving from (devastatingly effective) straightforward folk storytelling to a much more poetic approach, dropping evocative, picturesque lines next to each other and asking the listener to interpret. This song is short but packs a huge punch lyrically; there’s more going on that can be easily explained, and explaining any of it would detract from the joy of listening to it. Highly recommended.

2. “Here We Go Again” – Big Little Lions. We can always use more uplifting, group-sung pop-folk goodness.

3. “Conversations” – Little Chief. I basically don’t believe that any band is actually broken up these days, and so it’s with great excitement that I found out that Little Chief is back (albeit greatly slimmed down in the personnel department). This track is slightly less stomp-‘n-holler than their earlier stuff; there’s more sonic diversity and mature melodic development. Except for the big guitar build toward the end of the song, it sounds like a quieter version of The Head and the Heart (themselves graduates of the stomp and holler class, mostly). If you’re in for folk-pop, you’ll be in for this.

4. “At a Bar Downtown” – Steph Casey. Here’s some really great storytelling in an easygoing indie-folk track. The arrangement is rock-solid, Casey’s vocals soar, and the whole piece comes together beautifully.

5. “Point of no return” – Slowburner. It takes a lot of skill to make a solo piano piece tense and yet not overtly dissonant. This is a cleverly written and recorded piece that has lots of atmosphere.

6. “Siberia” – Lorenzo Masotto. Mid-way through summer in Phoenix, I start to long for Siberia and other incredibly cold places; get me to where it’s chilly and I’ll be happy. Lorenzo Masotto can’t take me there physically, but he’s certainly trying to take me there sonically. This piece is actually a bit warmer and friendlier than you might expect, but it still has rich, dark overtones of the perpetual winter. There’s also some classy, Romantic elements in the melodies. A lovely piece.

7. “Something” – Wall of Trophies. Dense walls of distortion and staccato arpeggiated rhythms are tamed into a backdrop for an track that’s somehow both grooving and thumping. Throw in some group chant and Brittany Jean’s excellent vocal delivery, and you’ve got a winner that’s not quite any genre: it lives in its own airspace between electro, indie-pop, and School of Seven Bells.

8. “How Do You Like Me Now” – The Local Strangers. Well, hot dang–that’s one way to start a record. A torrential blast of alt-country guitar and attitude-filled vocals power this big ‘ol kiss-off track. There’s even a brass line thrown in there to make it a bigger, badder, get-out-of-here tale. This is some killer alt-country. Highly recommended.

9. “Air On Line” – Anamanaguchi. There’s nothing quite like Anamanaguchi.

Late Singles

I’ve been buried under work for my day job recently and dealing with a whole lot outside work too. But all difficult seasons pass! Spring comes after winter. And lo, I’m trying to get the IC backlog back down. Here are some singles from … uh … July onward that are good and that you should listen to. These are in chronological order from when they arrived in my inbox.

1. “Howl at the Moon” – The Rough & Tumble. This engaging track has the dignity and maturity of grown-up folk while maintaining the enthusiasm and powerful melodies of folk-pop. The us-against-the-world, we’ll-go-it-alone mentality only adds to the great vibe. The arrangement is perfect, too; it perfectly enhances the mood created by the vocals and lyrics.

2. “Remote” – Tyler Berd. Berd’s latest anti-folk track consists of hyper-specific, stream-of-consciousness lyrics unspooling against a delightfully unstructured acoustic backdrop. It’s like a cross between The Mountain Goats, Daniel Johnston (RIP), and old-school Joe Pug. It’s pretty short, but it rewards multiple listens.

3. “Discover” – Kazyak. This is a get-high-and-listen-to-Kazyak major-key psychedelic jam straight out of the ’70s. It is six minutes long and I’d be disappointed if it isn’t twice that live. The vocal performance here is particularly inspired, which is not something that you get with jammy psych; this has all the best aspects of classic psych rock with few of the downsides. And I thought Kazyak was a folk outfit! Imagine.

4. “Crooked Games” – Moon Under Water. Here’s an impressive, moody indie-rock track that features an exultant chorus and outro tempered by an unusually calm vocal delivery. It makes me think back when indie rock meant “weird types of rock that you wouldn’t hear anywhere else,” because this is certainly atypical to big, bombastic rock. A very compelling track for fans of Manchester Orchestra, et al.

5. “American Fever Dream” – Matthew Squires. There’s a moment that people who stick around with an artist long enough get sometimes get to experience: the moment where you realize that the talent has become fully realized and everything from here on out is on a different plane. The moment for Matthew Squires is teased at about 20 seconds into this song, but the real moment is at 1:04. I won’t spoil it for you, but I got shivers and goosebumps on the first listen and again on the second listen. Squires’ squirrelly slacker-rock compositions are leveled up here, and his propensity for cryptic and religious lyrics is streamlined into zinging satire/commentary using the same themes. This is a winner, and if the rest of the album is like this, we’re gonna have a whole lot of album on our hands very soon.

6. “Visions of America” – Matthew Squires. PREVIOUS ANALYSIS CONFIRMED. We have quite an album on our hands here. Go get this album immediately.

7. “Showoff” – Black Violin. If you need some pump-up music today, here’s Black Violin mashing up classical composition and sick beats the way only they know how. This is awesome. The video is great too.

8. “Really Deep Snow” – Lindstrøm. Was I looking for nine minutes of pulsing, icy, ominous techno this morning? No. Am I thrilled to receive it? You bet I am.

9. “mind” – Mouse on the Keys. If you want adventurous composition, you can always count on Mouse on the Keys, who take jazz, post-rock, math-rock, and synth-rock and just ruthlessly mash them together. There is no one quite like Mouse on the Keys, and we are all better for it. This one has guitars that sound like Anamanaguchi’s, which is just the sweet, sweet icing on the cake.

10. “Ubuntu” – Desingly. My love of ’90s Beck makes me a big fan of this chill-beats-and-acoustic-instruments jam. It’s good-natured, good songwriting, and just good.

11. “Stack the Miles” – Gabriel Birnbaum. The ghost of Elliot Smith hangs over this one in the songwriting and production choices, and that’s a good thing. The melodies are haunting and lovely.

12. “Dawn Chorus” – Racoon Racoon. The male and female voices blend together here perfectly, creating a lilting, sun-dappled, charming folk tune.

13. “Best” – Young Mister. The world can always use more romantic, gentle pop love songs that talk about taking care of each other. Take care of each other out there.

IC April Playlist Recap 1

My list of April findings is smaller than my last few months. However, there are some big hits (and some long pieces) amid the small number of works. Here’s where you can hear the whole playlist! I’ll be back sometime in May to go over the rest of the April list.

The Appearance of Colour – John Metcalfe. Can you be minimalist and maximalist at the same time? Metcalfe’s compositions here are packed full of instruments, genres, textures, acoustic sounds, electronic sounds, and effects while simultaneously being full of space, not afraid to go (very) long, and very patient in the composition techniques. The incredible opener “Sun” is 20 minutes long and worth every second. This sort of composition takes the mindset of classical composition and then draws on all the modern music available to Metcalfe to result in some of the most fantastically interesting contemporary instrumental work I’ve heard in a long time. Highly recommended. Hat tip to Chris Krycho for the recommendation.

From Tomorrow, With Love & UPC – EP – Beta to the Max. I’ve had a thing for chiptune for a long time (having played lots of NES and SNES games), but I really fell in love with it when I ran into Anamanaguchi. This chiptune outfit isn’t quite as adrenalized as Anamanaguchi but uses that more relaxed pace to its advantage.

Virðulegu Forsetar – Jóhann Jóhannsson. Essentially one incredibly long piece of music broken up into many small pieces, this minimalist composition develops one majestic theme in bunches of different ways. The overall idea is delivered most often by a rich horn ensemble; as you may recall, I professed my love for brass ensembles last month and unsurprisingly have not been swayed in my affection since then. But where Hyde Park Brass was blasting off into the pop realm at times, Jóhannsson is experimenting with the bounds of form and structure, pursuing a richly melodic form of minimalism that rejects atonalism and repetition for its own sake. (It must be noted that I like minimalist repetition for its own sake such as “Canto Ostinato” but am unconvinced by atonalism.) Extra hat tip to Chris Krycho for the referral, once again.

Spindash 3 – GameChops, et al. GameChops was listed as a collaborator on Mikel’s Zelda and Chill that I loved so much last month, so I looked into some more of what GameChops is doing. This is the third collection of electro/techno/chiptune created out of Sonic the Hedgehog music. If you’ve ever listened to a Sonic the Hedgehog song, you know that it was stereotypically manic and sonically blown-out chiptune glory. This takes that base and spins out new works. So much fun.

Mid-March MP3s: Vol. 2

1. “The House” – Air Traffic Controller. Is it too early to call this the song of the summer? This crunchy pop song has hooky verses, an enormous chorus, great lyrics, and did I mention the enormous chorus? I’ve been telling everyone I know. It’s that good.

2. “Masterpiece” – Big Thief. Like All Dogs if they had signed to Saddle Creek (as Big Thief has), “Masterpiece” is a crunchy, female-fronted rock track that has a serious country/folk sentiment running through it in the vocals and the drums.

3. “Codes” – JPhono1. Wandering back and forth between minor and major, this acoustic-led indie-rock track twists expectations in clever ways.

4. “Troubles” – Ego Death. An insistent acoustic guitar is accompanied by ominous banjo, floating flutes, and subtle pizzicato to create an acoustic tune full of tension and release.

5. “Mother” – Ulli Matsson. A pleasantly wavering, flowing, idiosyncratic voice leads this punchy, inspired two-guitar acoustic song.

6. “like a feather or a pawprint” – Field Medic. Combine Iron & Wine with The Tallest Man on Earth, and you’d have the sort of tenderly romantic lo-fi fingerpicking with enigmatic lyrics that Field Medic espouses here. A charming little tune.

7. “When U Come Home” – Kate Walsh. A dramatic acoustic-pop track gets an upgrade with a smooth electro beat and bass line.

8. “Midnight Runner” – Emilio Bonito. A warm, inviting acoustic guitar instrumental complete with tapping percussion, harmonics, and mood shifts.

9. “Chamber of Sins” – Gonzalo Varela. Do you remember the old F-Zero games for Nintendo? The frantic rhythms and 8-bit melodies of Varela’s unique slice of post-rock reminds me of the tunes from that old space-racing game. (Also reminds me of Anamanaguchi, which more people might be more familiar with.)

10. “No Glitch” – One Girl Symphony. The up-front placement of a big, fat, plodding bass line tells me right away that this isn’t a typical instrumental performance. The rest of the tune delivers, landing somewhere between funk, country, and post-rock. Get adventurous, y’all.

11. “Lucid” – Dreamless. The instrumental hip-hop designation usually seems a little presumptuous, but “Lucid” has the swagger, confidence, and even melodic flow that make me think, “yes, this is what they were looking for.”

Singles 1: 9 p.m. Friday Dance-away-your-week Tunes

9 p.m. Friday Dance-away-your-week Tunes

1. “Lighthouse” – The Burgeoning. One of the most intriguing singles I’ve heard all year, this track combines the ambient uppers of chillwave with the melodic structures of Vampire Weekend and the frantic fury (and guitar noise) of a punk band. It’s a fresh, amazing combination. I’m looking forward to hear more from The Burgeoning.

2. “The Next Morning” – The Drafts. The energy and enthusiastic guitars of The Vaccines meet a reserved, pensive vocalist for a charming, infectious tune that you’ll want to hear multiple times.

3. “Where I Go” – Pistol Shrimp. If Passion Pit, MGMT, and Anamanaguchi had a basement dance party, this bangin’ tune would be the result. Pop gold, right here.

4. “Heartracer” – Cosby. Synth-laden, big-pop ’80s revivalism is going great this year. This fits right up there with Challenger for the best of the bunch.

5. “Recurring Dreams” – Shivery Shakes. The carefree nature of whistling in a ’60s surf-pop influenced tune gets me every time. You like The Drums? You’ll love this.

6. “Promises” – Barreracudas. If you make a metaphor that includes arcade games (specifically Donkey Kong), I will be immediately more endeared to you. Fun, poppy garage-rock here.

7. “Speed Date Yr Way to Fame” – Sweet Deals on Surgery. Starts off a thrashy, screamed, frantic punk song before taking a momentary break in pop. Then in blasts off again.

8. “Name on a Matchbook” – Springtime Carnivore. ’60s girl pop gets a slight sonic update, but the soul of this tune really begs for an -ettes suffix.

9. “Head Down” – The Ocean Party. Jangly ’80s indie-rock meets airy ’80s synth-pop. The peppy, fun results are less ’80s and more ’00s than you’d think.

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